Teens laugh, film disabled man drowning instead of helping

July 21, 2017 at 7:56 AM

By Geoff Herbert gherbert@syracuse.com,

A disturbing video shows five Florida teens laughing and taunting a disabled man drowning instead of helping him.

NBC Miami reports the clip, filmed by one of the teenagers on their cell phone, has gone viral on social media. It shows 31-year-old Jamel Dunn crying out for help while in a retention pond near his family's home in Cocoa, Fla., as they mock him and curse.

At one point, a boy can be heard telling the man he's "going to die" as they refuse to help him. Another boy laughs and says "he dead."

Dunn drowned on July 9 after reportedly arguing with his fiancee. A missing persons report was filed three days later and his body was recovered from the pond on July 14.

Police called the footage "beyond heartless," noting that all the teens -- boys between the ages of 14 and 16 -- had phones but didn't even call emergency services for help. "At least one of the teens expressed no remorse while being interviewed by detectives," Cocoa Police Department spokeswoman Yvonne Martinez told CNN Thursday.

USA Today reports Dunn is believed to have waded into the water on his own. "The kids were at the park that day smoking marijuana and apparently saw him walk into the water," Martinez told the newspaper. "They were watching him."

According to a GoFundMe page created by family members Dunn has a disability and walks with a cane.

The Brevard County State Attorney's Office said in a statement that they are "deeply saddened and shocked" at the tragedy, but will not charge the teens.

"While the incident depicted on the recording does not give rise to sufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution under Florida statutes, we can find no moral justification for either the behavior of persons heard on the recording or the deliberate decision not to render aid to Mr. Dunn," the office said. According to CNN, the state of Florida does not have any laws requiring citizens to render aid or call for help for anyone in distress.

3 teenage boys, ages 14 or 16, will regret what they did and what they didn’t do. Maybe they are cavalier now --- “What’s the big thing? All his own fault. That man was nothing to me.”

A police officer called the boys “beyond heartless”. But I can explain (not excuse) these ignorant progeny of our generally heartless generation.

  • Never learned to care

  • Maybe never been cared for

  • Conscience dulled by drugs

  • Contemptuous of a person with physical disabilities.

  • Allergic to authorities --- calling 911 might get me in trouble

  • Hard to distinguish a real drowning from virtual mayhem & death

  • Never heard of the Golden Rule

  • Didn’t know how to swim

  • No training as YouthGrace mentors

It’s disturbingly typical. This generation is real short on heroes.

Reminds me of a different breed of teen who defied police commands to stay on the shore of a flooding river --- somebody was caught in the current and likely to drown and this brave kid with a junior lifesaving certificate imagined he could fight the fast water and rescue the helpless victim. Police and firefighters ordered him not to go in, (didn’t want to multiply the tragedy, of course they were doing the right thing in forbidding a potential second victim from plunging in). But the kid bravely risked his own life, swam out and pulled the person to safety. OK, he was arrested, as I remember but, if I were his dad, bailing him out would have been one of the proudest moments of my life. That impetuous kid probably was a YouthGrace mentor.


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